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Caching The Bug In Baghdad

Catherine Warren aka Warrcat

Geocacher Catherine Warren has plenty of experience searching in the field – except for this United States Air Force officer, that fieldwork began in war-torn Baghdad, rather than her own neighbourhood.

The 26-year-old from Chicago, Illinois  (GC handle: Warrcat) was introduced to the hobby by a US Army captain after she was deployed to Iraq.

I said I wanted to try it with him and I was hooked the first time we went on a hunt.”

One year later, Catherine stills counts caching on Victory Base Complex – a cluster of US military installations surrounding Baghdad International Airport – as her favourite mission because she got to see some “neat and random things on base I never would have known about if a cache didn’t send me there“.

But she notes that caching on base provides a unique experience because of the limited space available to search. “Caches are usually closer together, within geocache hiding standards of course, so you typically find more at a time.”

Warrcat finding Rockin' on Route 66

And it’s not just that confined space which impacts deployed geocachers. Catherine points out that when back home in the US, nice weather will bring her out to cache but whilst stationed in Afghanistan it’s typical to go caching at night. “Less muggles and the air cools down.

Despite preferring to find caches, Catherine has managed to place four of her own – all hidden on bases in Afghanistan (just in case you were wanting to rush out and find one).

But before you think that military base caches must be bland with no history, check out this blurb from her first hide, GC2YYNC If Walls Could Talk #1:

The cache is located on Camp Phoenix, a US Forces and Coalition Partners post near the capital city of Kabul in Afghanistan. The cache is in an old, abandoned guard tower located at the original perimeter wall. I believe the only way we’ll know the true history of Camp Phoenix before the Coalition took over is if walls could talk.

This tower probably dates back to the Soviet Invasion of Kabul in 1979.

On October 31, 1979, Soviet informants to the Afghan Armed Forces (AAF), who were double agents under Soviet premier Brezhnev, relayed information telling the AAF to undergo maintenance cycles for their tanks and other crucial equipment. Meanwhile, telecommunications links to areas outside of Kabul were severed, isolating the capital. With a deteriorating security situation, large numbers of Soviet airborne forces joined stationed ground troops and began to land in Kabul on December 25.

Being so close to the airport and city, guards in this tower probably saw it all. Who knows what they did or information they relayed to support their country.

Catherine believes there are a small number of cachers at that Kabul base and notes that the bigger bases see more caching action. “On big bases like Bagram, caches are found almost once a week.  On smaller bases, caches are found maybe once every two or three weeks.

Like every cacher, she has been injured while out searching – though I doubt many of us have a story as cool as “leavin’ some blood behind on palm trees in Iraq“. Awesome.

When asked how many caches she has found, Catherine replied: “Am I supposed to know that off the top of my head?” – confirming her to be a cacher after INATN’s own heart.

Since I didn’t know my own cache count off the top of my head, I think it’s safe to say it’s not all about the numbers for me,” she added.

*Have you been caching while on deployment? Tell us your favourite story in the Comments section below.

1 comment

  1. ErikaJean

    Very cool! My sister did some caching in while over seas with US troops too. Even an EARTH cache! pretty neat stuff. Glad to see others having a good time during a rough time!

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